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Rafsanjani Dislodged From a Top Job

March 9, 2011
Farideh Farhi Iran’s Assembly of Experts voted March 8 to replace former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from the chairmanship. What happened and why is the outcome significant?On March 8, the Assembly of Experts, effectively pushed former President Rafsanjani from the leadership of a top…

Rising Oil Prices Create Political Cushion for Iran

March 7, 2011
Fareed Mohamedi  Oil prices have risen worldwide because of political unrest and upheavals in the Middle East. How has Iran been affected by the turmoil in oil sales?The sudden rise in oil prices amid uncertainty and upheavals in the Middle East could create a political cushion for…

Where are Iran's Opposition Leaders? Officials Speak Out

March 3, 2011
Semira N. Nikou      Iran has tightened the squeeze on Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi amid opposition attempts to mobilize new protests. The regime has dodged persistent questions about whether the two leaders—both prominent figures in the 1979 revolution—and their…

Iran’s Economy in the Shadow of Regional Upheaval

February 28, 2011
Suzanne Maloney        Iran’s stability is once again in question, as historic protests sweep the Middle East and revive the flagging fortunes of its own opposition movement. Expectations of the Islamic Republic’s inevitable demise are further fueled by the revolutionary state’s own…

U.N. reports new information on Iran’s nuclear program

February 25, 2011
Michael Adler          The United Nations has obtained new information that Iran may have worked on making nuclear weapons, according to a report distributed in Vienna February 25. Its nuclear watchdog agency also said Iran appears to have overcome setbacks from the Stuxnet cyber-virus that set…

Iran on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

February 25, 2011
Mehdi Khalaji For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was the largest organized opposition party in Egypt. It is Islamist. What are its similarities and differences with Iran’s Islamic revolution?The current revolt in Iran is against Islamism, but the recent uprising in Egypt is neither Islamist…

New U.S. Sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses

February 24, 2011
Robin Wright       The United States imposed new sanctions on two top Iranian officials for engaging in “serious human rights abuses” since the disputed 2009 election. In a striking run of statements on February 23, the White House, State Department and Treasury Department issued three separate…

The Mujahedeen-e Khalq Controversy

February 22, 2011
Omid Memarian What is the Mujahedeen-e Khalq organization?The Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mujahedeen Organization, was founded in 1965 as an urban guerilla group opposed to the monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It participated in the 1979 Revolution but later broke with…

Iran’s labor flashpoint

February 17, 2011
Kevan Harris       Iran’s labor movement and working class have been pivotal political actors for more than a century, with one of the longest records in the Middle East.  Iran has witnessed hundreds of strikes in major industries over the past two decades.  And thousands of workers participated…

U.S. Gets Tougher on Iran

February 15, 2011
Robin Wright        The Obama administration has become increasingly outspoken about Iran since the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings. The main focus has notably shifted from Iran’s controversial nuclear program to issues of democracy and human rights abuses.          For the first time, the…

Iranian quotes on Egypt's revolution

February 14, 2011
Semira N. Nikou        Iranian leaders have welcomed the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Tehran and Cairo have had tense and difficult relations. The two predominantly Muslim countries had rival forms of rule: Egypt is secular and Iran is an Islamic…

A revolution’s anniversary: Iran’s creeping military rule

February 9, 2011
Shaul Bakhash Iran’s revolution marks its anniversary on Feb. 11. What is the political situation in Iran today?Iran marks the revolution’s 32nd anniversary in dramatically altered circumstances. It emerged from the disputed 2009 presidential election as a far more militarized state. The…

For Iran, both hope and danger in Egypt

February 7, 2011
Daniel Brumberg       Strategically, Iran is hedging its position on the new Middle East turmoil.        The theocrats like to publicly portray the democratic revolts in Tunisia and Egypt as an Islamist tsunami sweeping away corrupt autocracies to replace them with Islamic regimes. But…

Iranians split on Egypt’s turmoil

February 3, 2011
Semira N. Nikou        Iranian leaders, from both the regime and the opposition, are increasingly speaking out about the turmoil in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere. The two sides view the protests from starkly different perspectives, however. The theocracy likes to take credit for inspiring the…

Iran’s New Foreign Minister: Ali Akbar Salehi

January 31, 2011
Mehrzad Boroujerdi      The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is better noted for its dense, jargon-filled technical reports than for grooming future political personalities. Yet former IAEA officials have recently catapulted into the political spotlight of two pivotal countries in the…

Iran and Hezbollah: The balance of power shifts in Lebanon

January 27, 2011
Emile Hokayem How does the selection of new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati--a Sunni Muslim hand-picked by Hezbollah, a Shiite movement--alter Iran’s influence or reach in Lebanese politics in practical terms?The swift change in government reflects the ascendancy of Hezbollah in Lebanese…

Why Tunisia and not Iran

January 25, 2011
Steven Heydemann       In Tunisia, a small, homogeneous state on the southern Mediterranean, a popular uprising forced the overthrow of a long-ruling dictator in early 2011.  Ruthless repression of mass protests failed.  In just one month, Tunisians ousted an entrenched authoritarian regime…

Why the Istanbul talks failed

January 23, 2011
Michael Adler in Istanbul Why did talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers in Istanbul January 21-22 fail to produce any agreement or significant movement toward a compromise?The talks deadlocked after Iran imposed two preconditions on any deal designed to assuage fears that the…

Could Iran deliver a bomb? Four basics about Iran’s ballistic missiles

January 21, 2011
Michael Elleman      International concern—and diplomacy—over Iran’s nuclear program have focused largely on Tehran's growing abilities to enrich uranium, a process essential for both peaceful nuclear energy and to make a bomb. But a second key issue is the Islamic Republic's ability to actually…

Iran’s domestic woes dictate outcome of nuclear talks

January 20, 2011
Geneive Abdo       Iran’s leaders face a host of problems at home and abroad that deeply impact international diplomatic efforts. The outcome of current talks between Tehran and the world’s six major powers—as well as any future initiatives—is likely to be heavily influenced by the regime’s…

Iran’s Nuclear Setbacks: A key for U.S. diplomacy

January 18, 2011
David Albright and Andrea Stricker       Iran’s nuclear program is suffering mounting setbacks, which in turn will provide more time for diplomacy and reduce the imminence of military strikes. The problems fall into three broad categories : increased difficulty of obtaining essential parts on…

Nuke estimate may buy diplomacy more time

January 13, 2011
Michael Adler What does the new estimate by Israel’s retiring Mossad chief Meir Dagan-- that Iran won’t have a weapon before 2015-- do to the diplomatic effort? It reinforces it. Diplomacy needs time and and gets time if Iran is stalled in its nuclear program, as is apparently the case.  How…

What's Turkey's Role in the Second Round of Iran Talks?

January 10, 2011
Henri J. Barkey Previous talks have always been in European venues, so why Istanbul for this second round of talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers over Iran’s controversial nuclear program?  Iran called for the talks to be held in Istanbul to reward Turkey—and also Brazil, since…

Patterns of Iran Human Rights Abuses 2010

December 16, 2010
Hadi Ghaemi       Iran launched a sweeping crackdown on human rights and civil society in 2010, following political unrest after the disputed June 2009 presidential election. The executive branch, the Revolutionary Guards and security services increasingly engaged in the arbitrary exercise of…

Iran’s trade with major powers increasing, despite sanctions

December 12, 2010
Semira N. Nikou     Trade between Iran and the world’s six major powers increased well into 2010, despite international sanctions and tough financial restrictions, according to International Monetary Fund figures and individual foreign ministries. Countries now negotiating with Iran include the…

Iran nuclear talks: A widening chasm

December 9, 2010
Robin Wright (Council on Foreign Relations interview)There seems to have been a little progress during the two days of meetings in Geneva, but where's the emphasis? How "little" and how much "progress"?The emphasis has to be on "little." In many ways, it appears that the two sides are even further…

Statements on the Dec. 6-7 talks between Iran and the major powers

December 7, 2010
       Iran and the world’s six major powers held talks in Geneva on Dec. 6 and 7. The only agreement was to hold a second round in Istanbul in January. These are major statements or comments by the delegations as widely reported in the press. .  European Union foreign policy chief Lady Catherine…

Prospects for talks with Iran face huge obstacles

December 3, 2010
Shahram Chubin        Negotiations between Iran and its critics are rare. They are always welcome, although they have seldom been productive. The talks in Geneva on Dec. 6 and 7 face the same huge obstacles as past diplomacy.         First, the two sides—Iranian officials on one side of the…

Primer on Dec. 6-7 talks between Iran and the world’s major powers

November 30, 2010
Ellen LaipsonWhy are the upcoming talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers important?The talks are the most important opportunity in more than one year for the international community to vet differences with Iran over its nuclear activities.  The mere resumption of talks--which include…

U.S. cables “wiki-leaked” show Gulf hawkish on Iran

November 29, 2010
Afshin Molavi What are the most significant Wikileaks revelations?The U.S. diplomatic cables portray the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain as very hawkish on Iran, even urging the United States to attack their Persian Gulf neighbor to forestall its nuclear program.…